North Dakota State President Dean Bresciani has appointed an interim provost following the resignation of Beth Ingram, with the interim to hold the position for the year. After which, NDSU will begin its search for a permanent provost following the 2019 legislative session.
Just before school returned, Ingram stepped down from her post as the provost of North Dakota State and took up a position within the department of agribusiness and applied economics, which became effective Aug. 16. A search committee convened in the end of July to review potential candidates to assume the provost position as an interim, with the final selection made by Bresciani Aug. 10.
Kenneth Grafton was one of two candidates recommended by the committee and was announced as the interim provost by Bresciani. Grafton served as the vice president for agricultural affairs for NDSU, the dean of the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources, and as the director of the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station.
Grafton said of the new position, “This will be my 39th year at NDSU. I have held a number of different positions and am nearing the end of my career, and I believe I have been successful in the work I have done for the university. The school needs someone with experience, and because the university has given me so much, I want to give back.”
During his time as interim provost, Grafton explained that he views it as a caretaker role. With the hard times and uncertainty from budget cuts and decreased student enrollment, Grafton said he wants to take a role in making the adjustments necessary while minimizing impacts to students, faculty and staff.
Another goal Grafton outlined is to initiate an anti-bullying policy, with which he seeks to minimize and eliminate bullying. He explained that, although the policy may not be complete by the time his position is up, he would at least like to lay down the foundation.
Furthermore, Grafton said he wants college deans to remain empowered to do their jobs because, he says, “No one knows their college better than they do. Well, except for the College of Ag.” In addition, he wants to ensure the careful use of resources, delivering resources to impactful programs and working to eliminate the budget issue.
Grafton will remain in the position until the search for a new university provost can be completed next year. In a statement, Bresciani explained that the search for a permanent provost will take place in 2019 “when there is greater clarity about our budget and governance.”
Bresciani credited his decision with the current political climate in North Dakota regarding higher education. “While we believe that the statewide budget situation has improved significantly from the last legislative session, we will not have a firm budget for the upcoming biennium until next April.”
“In addition, the Governor’s Task Force for Higher Education Governance has not completed its work, which also causes short-term uncertainty,” Bresciani added. Since the 2015 legislative session, higher education has seen a “reduction of approximately 18 percent in its appropriated general fund dollars” and the Governor’s Task Force exists to “evaluate the governance structure for North Dakota’s higher education system and determine if improvement opportunities exist to better meet the state’s educational and workforce needs for the 21st Century.”
Bresciani explained in his statement that he is working with Grafton to fill the three vacated positions.